Efficiency in Motion
Much has been done over the past five years to address the cost and delay in the civil justice process, and much of that work has focused on discovery. Recognizing that there are equal challenges and opportunities for improvement in the area of motions practice, IAALS is focused on understanding the current motions landscape and issuing recommendations for a process that is more efficient, more targeted, and less costly.
- To address the cost and delay in our system related to motions practice.
- To recommend improved processes for dispositive motions and support their implementation, thereby improving the process for all in the system, from courts to users alike.
Much of our work has centered on civil justice reform in the area of discovery, which, apart from trials (in the rare instances in which they occur), is the most costly aspect of litigation. At the same time, we have heard the call for reform in the area of motions practice, which can similarly result in great cost and delay to the parties. These challenges exist at the state and federal levels, although both the challenges and the solutions may be unique.
To begin to identify the challenges related to summary judgment and dispositive motions, as well as brainstorm practical solutions that can be employed by the parties and the court, IAALS hosted a convening at the Penrose House in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in November 2017 for a small group of judges, attorneys, and scholars from around the country. The discussion was informed by a summary judgment docket study preview that was prepared in advance of the convening, which provided background on current summary judgment processes as well as insights regarding innovations already in place around the country.
To further inform this effort, IAALS conducted a docket study, Efficiency in Motion: Summary Judgment in the U.S. District Courts, to examine current summary judgment practice in federal court. Overall, this report provides an important window into motions practice in our legal system. Our intent is that this information serve as the foundation for robust conversation regarding current practices, challenges, and ideas for improving the process—on the part of the bench and the bar—for the benefit of litigants. This research is an important first step into understanding the current landscape of summary judgment and identifying areas for improvement.
IAALS’ next step is to develop recommendations for reform based on this data and input from a broad base of stakeholders with different perspectives and experience. Launching from the convening and IAALS’ empirical research, we have formed a working group to develop recommendations for improving dispositive motions practice in our state and federal courts.
Ultimately, our goal is to support implementation and real impact on the ground designed to save litigants time and money in the process.
IAALS formerly housed this work under its Rule One Initiative until 2018. This project is supported by the generosity of the Sturm Family Foundation.